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Family and Friends Stories of Reflection

Listening to You, Maya on Your Birthday

James Warren March 11, 2023
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Happy Birthday, Maya! 🎂🎉We love you! ❤️ We miss you! We’re going to go sit at your bench in the garden this weekend, and spend some time with you there, in one of your favorite places. I don’t know, maybe we’ll even have a little cake at some point. 

Yes, today is your BIRTHDAY!! And you know what? It’s been exactly nine months to the day since we last saw each other. In fact, the last time was on MY birthday! What an interesting occurrence. From my birthday to your birthday… 

Believe it or not, I never processed this timespan between our birthdays, because I always viewed my birthday in the context of hers. The differences in our ages, the dates on the calendar. How interesting, now, to view her birthday, in relation to mine. Nine months. What has been born over these last nine months? What life has emerged from her death?

I’ve been doing a lot of inner work the past year and a half, and boy did that work take on new urgency after my sister died. Instantly, I was lost. So scared. So heartbroken. In a sheer panic. My big sister, my protector, gone, in what I felt was the most tragic of ways. Would I die this way, too? I had the same mental health risk factors she did. We both survived a childhood that even still I struggle to fully comprehend in all its contradictions. We made it out of that hell, so why could we both not make it out of adulthood? Indeed, the journey of the past nine months has been a desperate search for the truth. The truth of Maya. Of Me. Of our past. And yes, our future. Because Maya is part of my future. She is not here physically, but man, she is here spiritually. 

She is guiding me. She started speaking to me the day she died, but it took a while to hear. Through the sobbing. Through the confusion. Through the anger. Through the writing. Through the counseling. It took a while to hear. But eventually, her quiet, calm voice was persistent in my inner ear. 

And do you know what she is telling me?

She is saying, “Let it go.” Not, “Let go.” But, “Let IT go.” What is it? It’s all the pain, nearly half a century of it. This is profound. And I immediately want to say, “But, but, but, did you have to GO for me to hear that?” And then I have to let go even of that thought. 

And as I have worked on letting go of pain, I have picked up a few things. Trust. Vulnerability. Acceptance. Courage. These are the things that are hard for me. I don’t trust people easily. Interestingly, I write with transparency because I am uncomfortable with vulnerability. (How does that work?) I struggle to accept what is, because I’m constantly focused on what was or will be. And I have lived in fear so much of my life. But increasingly, I see these new ways showing up in almost every aspect of my life: family; health; work and business; writing; friendships and community. And I see the evidence of my own growth in all of those areas.

So on this day, Maya’s birthday, I celebrate my continued rebirth. I celebrate waking up. I celebrate a life I quite possibly have only discovered because of her death. (Or at least a life with clarified meaning.) Perhaps that is The Door in front of me that I speak about, the Door that has beckoned me. Perhaps that is her purpose now, on the other side of That Door: to show me the way. 

Happy Birthday, Maya. I love you and miss you so much it makes my insides ache. And… I hear you. I hear you. I hear you. And I am perpetually reborn.


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